“By late morning, the Imperial Guard had hopes of victory. They had seized the ruin on the eastern side of the valley, and they were effectively crushing the ork flank attack to the west. But hidden in the rocks in the center of the battlefield was a threat that would soon turn the fight against our noble guardsmen.”—Analysis of the Fifth Battle of the Iron Spires, History of the 728th Cadian Regiment, 700-800.M41 (Volume 1,892)
The fighting grew in intensity as the morning wore on. After their success in seizing the eastern ruin, the Imperial infantry found themselves under attack by a large mob of Boyz. Using flamers, the guardsmen were able to stop the first assault wave.
But sheer numbers—along with the mindless fury of the ork assault—began to push back the human defenders. The appearance of a xeno pskyer [Designation: “Weird Boy”], who killed several guardsmen with a discharge of psychic energy, finally shattered the defender’s morale. Guardsmen began to flee, and finally a general retreat began.
The orks had regained possession of the ruin.
On the western flank, the 6th Mechanized Battalion began to gain the upper hand over the ork flank attack. Firing their lascannon at point-blank range, the Scout Sentinels take out the “loota wagons.” One exploded, sending ork body parts across the battlefield, and as the surviving orks disembark from their flaming vehicles, they were charged by the Imperial veterans and destroyed.
To their rear, however, a new threat emerged. The ork Speed Freeks had taken up position in the rocky outcroppings near the center of the Imperial lines, and they used that cover to shield themselves from fire as they targeted—and destroyed—a squad of Ratling snipers hiding in the petrified forest.
Once that threat was eliminated, the Speed Freeks fell on the rear of the 6th Mechanized. At the guardsmen’s moment of triumph, they were charged in the rear by Grot tanks and ork Trukks. Outflanked, and with casualties mounting quickly, they were forced to retreat ignobly.
In the skies above, the dogfight continued. The ork ace, the infamous Fast Eddy Rikken Orker, managed to score several hits on the Valkyries, although these well-armored aircraft stayed aloft.
On the eastern flank, the fighting had settled down. The surviving guardsmen had fled the ruin and taken up a defensive position in the hills near their original line, and the orks showed no interest in crossing open ground in front of an intact Imperial firing line.
On the far side of the battlefield, however, the fighting remains intense—and somewhat confused. The Valkyries broke off their dogfight with the Dakkajets and roared past them, and their veteran passengers made a high-speed aerial drop just north of an ork encampment on the ork left flank.
The ork warbands in the area charged in hopes of dislodging this new threat, but they were stopped by a volley of lasguns and columns of flame provided by the veterans’ heavy flamers. The veterans then attacked and seized the encampment.
But the battle’s conclusion was determined in the center. The Speed Freeks, having broken the Imperial right flank, swung to the east and rolled up several hundred meters of the Imperial flank. Although Colonel Klein was able to use reserves to stop this threat, he was unable to support the success of the veteran aerial strike, and he was forced to order them to withdraw to safety.
Although pressed by ork attacks for the entirety of their retreat, the 1st Veteran Company managed to extricate itself from behind the ork lines and make its way back to the Imperial line.
Meanwhile, the durability of the Valkyries eventually began to take its toll on the ork aircraft. Even Rikken Orker eventually withdrew, trailing a column of black smoke as he disappeared over the mountains.
Although Klein was able to stabilize the Imperial line, ork assaults continued throughout the day. With his forces too battered to resume the advance, the veteran commander reluctantly ordered a withdrawal. The 728th Cadians were not defeated, but they were not in a position to stand their ground.
The Imperial advance had run out of steam.
TheGM: A disappointing loss. The Gaffer almost lost the battle, as I controlled more objectives as the game entered its later turns. Indeed, his “morale” began to sag as the game wore on—and he offered to concede.
But, in my foolishness, I pointed out that he had a chance to snatch victory from defeat—if he could just challenge control of two objectives. And that’s what transpired. I had the battle won on Turns 5 but lost it on Turn 6.
Sigh. These xenos are hard to kick off this moon.
TheGaffer: The terrain favored the Freebooterz, but did not hurt the Imperials. I had changed my usual setup from placing objectives well forward in the deployment zone to as far back as possible forcing the GM to actually attack. In addition, the added cover from dense terrain allowed both sides to maneuver in relative safety. What was interesting about the game was the effectiveness of the ork shooting with the resulting casualties being higher than in ork close assaults. Paradoxically, an Imperial assault was successful! The tide turned as ork reserves entered the fray. I had kept back a large 20 ork formation to retake any imperial held objectives. There was a bit of rulesy-gamesy in the contesting of objectives. I had units in the vicinity of Imperial held objectives but these did not count as contesting. Once that rule was reviewed, we continued on to the last turn so that the orks could properly contest them.
This was one of our better games; Lots of maneuver on both sides instead of the WW1 style wave attacks. Now that I’ve painted up about 120 boyz I can concentrate on supporting units. The Lootas were surprisingly effective. TheGM did not account for the long range of the guns which cost him dearly in the opening phases of the game. The campaign is entering a new level of play.
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our adventures in the sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.